By Paul Bremmer
If you think the Puritans of the 1600s were intolerant, you haven’t met modern American “neo-Puritans,” according to author Jack Cashill.
“[Nathaniel] Hawthorne described his 17th century forebears as ‘the most intolerant brood that ever lived,'” Cashill told an audience at the Kansas City Public Library recently. “But his Puritans were the picture of moderation compared to the progressive neo-Puritans who have dictated our morality now for the last few decades.”
Such people do not call themselves “neo-Puritans,” Cashill noted, but they wish to put the force of law behind their own conception of “morality” and punish those who “sin.”
This makes them similar to the Puritans. However, their idea of sin is different than that of the Puritans, or any other world religion for that matter.
Cashill recently wrote a book, “Scarlet Letters: The Ever-Increasing Intolerance of the Cult of Liberalism Exposed,” in which he identified the seven intolerable sins against the progressive “neo-Puritan” worldview: racism, sexism, classism, homophobia, xenophobia, Islamophobia, and climate-change denialism.
He warns neo-Puritans do not take kindly to those who commit one of these “sins.”
“If you disagree with one, you’re not just wrong, you’re not just unenlightened – you’re immoral, you’re sinful, and you’re deserving of punishment in the here and now,” he said. “Not in the afterlife – there is none of that – in the here and now.”
See part of the speech:
Cashill, whose Kansas City library speech was broadcast on C-SPAN 2’s “Book TV,” said he came up with the idea of a religious theme for his book while watching a documentary on former New Jersey Gov. Jim McGreevey. At one point in the documentary, a sign next to a church appeared onscreen that read, “Jesus liberates us from our sins of sexism, homophobia, racism, and classism.”
This caught Cashill’s attention.
“Now if the signboard had been a little bit bigger, it would have had ‘Islamophobia,’ ‘xenophobia,’ and ‘climate-change denialism,'” he quipped. “Those are the seven deadly sins of our era, and God help the man or woman who violates one.”
Cashill, a WND columnist, pointed out hatred is the one sin that underlies the other seven: racists hate black people, sexists hate women, homophobes hate homosexuals, and so on. But if you think the neo-Puritans themselves are all about love, you would be wrong.
“Now the neo-Puritan elect, and this is the odd thing about them … they have less interest in celebrating their own values than they do in condemning those people who resist the celebration,” Cashill said. “They take joy in that. For them it’s almost as good as eating organic or occupying something.”
One example he cited was that of Aaron and Melissa Klein, the Christian bakers in Oregon who declined to make a wedding cake for a lesbian couple. Rather than simply finding another baker willing to bake them a cake, the lesbian couple filed a complaint, and an Oregon commissioner eventually ordered the Kleins to pay the couple $135,000 for emotional damages. He even slapped a gag order on them. But that was after intense public pressure from “gay marriage” supporters forced the Kleins to close their bakery.
The Kleins even tried to set up a GoFundMe page to help pay their fine, but the website shut it down, saying it would no longer allow campaigns in defense of “discriminatory acts.”
Cashill noted sadly that Aaron Klein drives a garbage truck now that the neo-Puritans have destroyed his bakery. He said the Kleins’ case exemplifies the neo-Puritan model.
“It’s just not enough to share your offense,” he said. “You’ve got to enlist the state in your cause. This is where it begins to really approach the Puritan model, but the Puritans were a picture of mercy and rationality compared to what’s going on right now.”
The author pointed out Hester Prynne, the protagonist in Nathaniel Hawthorne’s “The Scarlet Letter,” at least knew she had committed the sin of adultery. She knew why she was being punished. But he said it’s hard for modern people to know when they’ve offended the neo-Puritans. In fact, it’s too easy to offend them.
Case in point: former NFL quarterback Brett Favre received criticism from the Left for not clapping long enough or enthusiastically enough as the transgender Bruce/Caitlyn Jenner approached the stage to receive the Arthur Ashe Courage Award at the ESPYs this year. Cashill said Favre was a recipient of the newest scarlet letter – “T” for “transphobia.”
He said the fairly recent invention of this new sin shows progressive neo-Puritans have no fixed ideology like the liberals of old.
“Progressives have no set fixed values today,” he charged. “They don’t. At the risk of tautology, progressives progress. If they believe in anything, they believe in progress, and they’re like sharks. They have to keep swimming forward because if they stop, they die… So they’re constantly finding new sins, new laws, new ways to [be offended].”
Cashill said he believes most progressives are actually nice people, but the radical front edge of the movement wants to destroy Western civilization as we know it.
“We’re not in a totalitarian state right now,” he asserted. “We’re not in a fascist state. We never will be… But the totalitarian impulse is surely within our neo-Puritan friends.”
He noted mere tolerance is never enough for neo-Puritans. After the public learned Mozilla CEO Brendan Eich had donated to Proposition 8 in California, through which voters banned “gay marriage” in the state, progressives weren’t satisfied knowing Eich’s personal beliefs had no bearing on how he treated his employees.
Nearly 75,000 people signed a petition demanding Eich make “an unequivocal statement of support for marriage equality” or resign. Eich eventually resigned under intense national pressure.
Cashill said there’s no use in apologizing to the neo-Puritans, as former Treasury Secretary Larry Summers found out. As president of Harvard University in 2005, Summers spoke at a conference about why he thought women were underrepresented in top-level science and math professions. He speculated that part of the reason was success in those fields requires a huge time commitment that women with babies or young children simply can’t make. He also said the top 1 percent of IQ scores were statistically dominated by men.
Word of Summers’ comments leaked out to the media, and people accused him of sexism. Summers apologized repeatedly, but it didn’t satisfy the neo-Puritans, and Summers resigned his position a few months later. And several years later, President Obama passed him over for the Federal Reserve chairmanship in favor of a woman, Janet Yellen.
“If you apologize, that’s not enough,” Cashill said.”They’ll want you to grovel, and that’s not enough; they want your head. And when they get your head, they’re going to keep your head for the rest of your life.”
Cashill actually believes the neo-Puritans may soon lose their grip on the culture. He senses there are many good liberals out there who fear they, too, may become targets of the neo-Puritans’ ire. He also takes heart from the series of undercover videos that have exposed Planned Parenthood’s callousness.
“Those videos seriously threaten the neo-Puritan moral hegemony,” Cashill said. “I mean, they’ve been dictating to us for the last 30 or 40 years how we should think and feel about any number of issues.
“But young people have got to be asking themselves, having seen this… ‘Why is it a worse sin to refuse to bake a cake, or why is it a worse sin to say ‘Bruce’ Jenner than it is to kill and dismember a totally viable unborn baby and to sell her body parts? Shouldn’t that at least deserve a [scarlet] letter?'”